After the Pirates took the first two games of the series, Jerad Eickhoff took the mound for his first start in a Pirates uniform. The Cubs scored 10 runs off the right-hander as Chicago went on to defeat the Pirates 14-5 on Wednesday night at PNC Park.
After a scoreless first inning, the Cubs tagged Eickhoff for seven runs in the second. With runners on second and third, Eickhoff plunked Jason Heyward and Alfonso Rivas on back-to-back pitches, resulting in the first run of the game.
Rafael Ortega followed with a two-run double, followed by a single from Patrick Wisdom that plated two more runs two batters later. Pittsburgh-native Ian Happ capped off the big inning with a two-run homer into the bushes in center field.
The Cubs tacked on two more in the fourth when Wisdom blasted a two-run homer, putting the Cubs up 9-1. Wisdom recorded a pair of hits and four RBIs in the contest. Jonathan Villar recorded a sacrifice fly an inning later to give Chicago another tally.
Eickhoff’s final line read 4.1 innings, 10 hits (two homers), 10 earned runs, one walk, four strikeouts and three hit batters.
Diego Castillo got the Pirates on the board with a solo shot in the home half of the second, the fifth homer of the season for the rookie infielder.
Diego Castillo – Pittsburgh Pirates (5) pic.twitter.com/4rk7uiwLsf
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) June 22, 2022
Castillo pitched the top of the ninth inning, marking his second relief appearance of the year. Rivas roped a grand slam to right, putting Chicago ahead 14-1. There was a pretty comical moment in the inning when Castillo, a position player, punched out David Robertson, a pitcher, to end the inning.
Oneil Cruz recorded an RBI in the bottom of the ninth, making it five straight games with a run batted in to begin his Major League career. He’s the first MLB player to accomplish that since Gerardo Parra in 2009.
The Pirates mini-rally continued in the inning when Bligh Madris cleared the bases with a three-run double out to center.
The Bucs will go for the series win on Thursday afternoon. They’ll rely on veteran Jose Quintana (1-4, 3.66 ERA) to do so. The Cubs will send out Justin Steele (2-5, 4.27 ERA) in a battle of the southpaws.
- An Ugly Outing: It doesn’t need to be said that it was a tough game on the mound for Eickhoff. Not only did the right-hander plunk three batters which itself is eye-opening, but when he was in the zone he left far too many pitches over the heart of the plate. He struggled with command of the zone with his fastball and his off-speed offerings, and the Cubs certainly made him pay. Derek Shelton opted to use him into the fifth inning in an effort to preserve the bullpen with an early afternoon game on Thursday.
- Employee Of The Month: In the month of June for his career, Bryan Reynolds entered play hitting .368 with a 1.011 OPS in 68 games. Those numbers will only get better as the Pirates center fielder collected a pair of hits, including a triple, in the loss to Chicago. In his 19 games to start the month this season, Reynolds was slashing .357/.397/.571 and has broken out of his slump to begin the season, and has raised his season OPS from .725 to .790.
- Did De Job: Chase De Jong was tasked with providing the Pirates some length out of the bullpen to keep some other arms available out of the pen in a day after night game situation. De Jong did just that, pitching, 3.2 scoreless, which included a pair of strikeouts. The peripherals aren’t great, but De Jong has given the Pirates some value out of the bullpen this season, and lowered his season ERA to 1.67 on the year.
- All, Or Nothing: This has certainly been an interesting start to the four-game series between the Pirates and Cubs. The Bucs outscored the Cubs 19-2 in the first two games of the series, taking both games. Chicago returned that favor in this one defeating Pittsburgh by nine runs. What will the final game of the series have in store? Tune back in Thursday afternoon.